With the start of Euro 2012, soccer fans around the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief. Having been starved of top quality, international football for far too long, the BIG Men at the top are finally at work in Poland and the Ukraine. As usual, they are giving us the greenest of pitches and the sharpest of televised images of those sweat-exploding, ultra-slow motion headers and overhead, HD shots. The only problem is that, mixed with these feelings of satisfaction, South Africans cannot deny that sadly nostalgic, post 2010 feeling- not so long ago, it was all happening right here. In fact, it was exactly two years ago today.
It is hard to believe that just 730 days ago our country was the most exciting place to be on the planet. Our usually desolate winters were transformed into the warmest, most colourful and vibrant climate ever imagined. Remember the flags tied to every considerable surface, the soccer shirts worn all day and night and the restless excitement? Remember that Tshabalala goal, the unpredictable, youthful Germans, the brave Ghanaians and Iniesta’s victorious extra time goal?
If we forget our nostalgic semi-depression for a moment, there is another important soccer connotation to June 12, 2012. Today marks not only our two-year word cup anniversary, but also the two year mark to the kick off of the World Cup in Brazil. Although our vuvuzelas will have to be transformed into drums and the diski dance into the samba, the countdown to 2014 can finally begin in earnest.
At long last, we can stop looking backwards and instead begin to look forward to that not so far off day in Sao Paulo. It won’t be hard- that excitement is still only just under the surface.